For the third time in four years, the TCU baseball program is headed to the Super Regionals- and this time around that doesn't involve a trip to play on UT's ridiculous artificial field. Instead they'll be headed to Los Angeles to take on their old nemesis from Omaha, the UCLA Bruins, in a three-game series that will start with a prime-time match up Friday night on ESPN...the uno. No more sitting at a computer or figuring out if you have whatever obscure TV channel needed to watch!
If you followed the team throughout the season and through this remarkable weekend run in College Station, you know that the Frogs are exactly who opposing teams do not want to see this time of year: a confident squad who is peaking right when it matters most. For all of his records and accolades, 2012 may be Jim Schlossnagle's best coaching job yet.
I know some of you are thinking that I'm mistakenly ignoring the magic of the 2010 squad that came within three wins of a national title, but I think you should consider some of the circumstances. First is the obvious factor of the age of this team. Four true freshmen are part of the starting batting order, and three of those are playing in the infield. The pitching staff has a front end made up entirely of freshmen or sophomores. There are only three seniors on the roster, and one of them- Jason Coats- brings me to my next point. When a team that struggled at the plate all year loses their best hitter and one of their leaders in the final game of the regular season, the result usually isn't very pretty. Combine that with losing in the opening game of the regional, and you've got adversity enough that even older, battle-tested teams would have difficulty overcoming. But Schlossnagle was able to get his young team to grow up and grow together, even under the pressure.
When discussing masterful coaching jobs at TCU, the go-to comparison will always be Gary Patterson. For a stretch between 2009 and 2010, GMFP and Schlossnagle were going toe-to-toe trying to out-do each other. Schloss reached his first Super in the spring of '09, so GP topped him with a BCS berth that fall. The next year, Schlossnagle got his team to Omaha for the first time, so Patterson then went out and won the damn Rose Bowl. This school year, though, they have both produced masterpiece rebuilding efforts. Like this current squad on the diamond, you'll remember that the football team struggled early on in their season due to inexperience. But Patterson and Schlossnagle were both able to mature their teams midseason, and the baseball team's comeback to win the regional from the loser's bracket may just be the equal of the football team's gutsy win on the blue turf in Boise.
Now, to see if Schlossnagle can top it...